Amanda Gorman’s Dutch translator Marieke Lucas Rijneveld quits
The International Booker Prize winner from 2020, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, has stood down from their position as American poet Amanda Gorman’s Dutch translator after complaints that a non-black translator was hired for the job.
Controversy over publisher’s choice to hire a white translator
Gorman rose to international fame after she and her poetry featured in President Biden’s inauguration ceremony in January. Rijeneveld was hired by Gorman’s publisher, Meulenhofff, to translate her inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb, into Dutch.
However, the publisher’s decision to hire a non-black translator was met with serious backlash. Writing an opinion piece for De Volkskrant, journalist and activist Janice Deul stated that Rijneveld was not the best person for the job, calling it an incomprehensible choice.
“[Gorman’s] work and life are coloured by her experiences and identity as a black woman. Isn't it - to say the least - a missed opportunity to hire Marieke Lucas Rijneveld for this job?” argues Deul, “They are white, non-binary, have no experience in this field, but according to Meulenhoff are still the "dream translator"?”
Dutch author Rijneveld confirms they’ve stepped down as translator
Following the uproar, Meulenhoff announced Rijneveld’s decision to resign from the position as translator. “I am shocked by the uproar surrounding my involvement in the spreading of Amanda Gorman’s message and I understand the people who feel hurt by Meulenhoff’s choice to ask me,” Rijneveld wrote on Twitter. “I considered it a great and honourable assignment to translate Amanda Gorman's inaugural poem and her collection into Dutch.”
Meulenhoff had said it was Gorman herself who had selected Rijneveld as the Dutch translator, but the publishing house said they would be “looking for a team to work with to bring Amanda’s words and message of hope and inspiration into translation as well as possible in her spirit.” In their statement, Rijneveld wished Gorman and the future translator(s) well: “I still wish that [Amanda Gorman’s] ideas reach as many readers as possible and open several hearts.”